Indian women’s hockey in New Zealand to play five test series
The Indian Women’s hockey team has to New Zealand for five-match Test series commencing in Midlands from May 14, 2017 with new-found hostility and strategy up their sleeves.
After a successful outing in Vancouver, Canada, where they won the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 and qualified for the Women’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals to be played in Johannesburg, the Indian women play the Test Series in New Zealand.
Led by Rani, the team features an skilled mix with the likes of Sushila Chanu, Ritu Rani, Deep Grace Ekka, Sunita Lakra, Vandana Katariya, Namita Toppo, Sunita Lakra, Navjot Kaur, Lilima Minz, Monika, Renuka Yadav, Nikki Pradhan, Savita among others.
The team also has new drag flickers in Gurjit Kaur, newcomer Reena Khokhar who made her debut against Belarus in the Five-match Test Series earlier this year and Udita, who will be making her debut.
According to Rani, there is a lot of deviation in how we play now. She firmly believes that the team has improved in their fitness, technique and man-to-man marking. New Zealand Tour will be a good preparatory tour for the team ahead of the World League Semi Final and this exposure will help them improve and also understand their weak points. The team, under newly-appointed Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne, began the season with a 5-0 win against Belarus in Bhopal.
Chief Coach Sjoerd Marjine says that playing five times against a higher ranked team like New Zealand will open up areas that we require to work on in the next three months ahead of the World League Semi Final. The team’s performance has been on an upswing post Rio Olympics last year. They were crowned champions at the 4th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy apart from a series of wins this year.
Marijne feels a good outing in New Zealand will only help the Indian eves to improve their confidence level ahead of the event in Johannesburg which also happens to be a World Cup qualifier. Playing with good pace, handling pressure in crunch situations and coming up with really good defense apart from emphasis on fitness was some of the focus areas during the 21 -day camp in Bengaluru.
Sanjay M Bhaire
(The author is Editor-In-Chief, Across States)
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